Dignity & respect

The Society of Authors is committed to promoting professional behaviour throughout all its activities, and to tackling and preventing bullying and harassment in all their forms.

Bullying and harassment have no place on our premises, in our communications, or in any other environment in which we operate. Along with our partners in publishing, broadcasting and other industries, we are committed to eradicating such behaviour.

We ask all employees; members; associates; committee members; volunteers; prize and grant judges, assessors and participants; contractors; suppliers; trainees; visitors; and all our partners, professional or otherwise, to make the same commitment to the principles outlined here.

In principle…

With the Booksellers Association, the Publishers Association and the Association of Authors’ Agents, we have co-authored and endorsed the Commitment to Professional Behaviour in Bookselling and Publishing (PDF download).

Its key principles are:      

  1. We in the books industry support creative expression and the freedom of speech. However, our creative realm is also a professional one and we expect high standards of behaviour from everyone we encounter in the course of our work, including colleagues and customers.
  2. We will protect the passion, imagination and creativity of everyone in the books industry. We will celebrate and promote diversity and inclusion so that all voices can be heard.
  3. We will recognise our influence and make a commitment to work together to prevent abuse of power, creating a work environment free of discrimination, sexual and other harassment, bullying and intimidation.
  4. We will ensure that everyone in our industry is treated with dignity and respect so that individuals are supported and able to speak out.

We also endorse the BFI Principles and its supporting guidance notes, with its practical help and support on bullying and harassment

In practice…

We have clarified our guidance for members, employees and all third parties who work with the Society of Authors (PDF download) which together with our Equality Policy (PDF download) and the principles outlined here govern our relationships and practices.

In interactions with the SoA, at SoA events or on SoA business, the SoA will consider and investigate all complaints and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to prevent a recurrence. Sanctions may range from warning the party involved that the particular behaviour is inappropriate and must cease, through immediate removal from the premises to removing membership, should it appear that any member’s continuance would prejudicially affect the SoA.

Society of Authors employees

We have strengthened and clarified our internal guidelines and policies for employees to ensure the Society of Authors is a respectful, considerate and professional environment for staff, members and visitors alike. We are nurturing a culture where all employees, regardless of role, are empowered to challenge and report bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour if they witness it.

Society of Authors as trusted intermediary

If a Society of Authors’ member contacts us with a complaint about bullying or harassment outside the SoA’s control or environment but within our associated industries, we will offer to support them through this process and, if necessary, act as a trusted intermediary on their behalf. If a member wishes to remain anonymous, we may help to bring a complaint to the attention of the employing organisation, especially where we are made aware of multiple complaints about the same individual.

We will supply guidance for members on our website and on request.

Where we cannot assist in this capacity, we will refer members to the free confidential helpline run by ACAS, either via its Helpline Online Service or by phone: 0300 123 1100, available Monday to Friday 8am-6pm.

We will keep all our policies and guidance under review to ensure that they are fit for purpose in tackling bullying and harassment over time. We welcome suggestions from employees, members and partners for changes we might make to improve our approach to bullying and harassment.

In partnership…

Our commitment alone is not enough to change attitudes and the culture. Our actions are part of a wider movement working across the creative industries and beyond. Only by working in partnership with others will the principles we have adhered to result in permanent change.

We will continue to work with our partners at the Booksellers Association, the Publishers Association and the Association of Authors’ Agents, to ensure that the Commitment to Professional Behaviour in Bookselling and Publishing evolves as a relevant, active, practical statement.

We will continue to work with other partners across the creative industries, including the BFI, SCWBI, Scottish Book Trust, and others, collaborating to learn, and evolve our approach.

Further reading…

Further help and advice